A Learning Agenda to Build the Evidence Base for Strengthening Global Health Information Systems

Publisher: Health Information Management Journal (online ahead of print)
Jul 23, 2020
Heidi W. Reynolds, Shannon Salentine, Eva Silvestre, Elizabeth Millar, Ashley Strahley, Abby C. Cannon, and Emily A. Bobrow


Evidence-based interventions are necessary for planning and investing in health information systems (HIS) and for strengthening those systems to collect, manage, sort and analyse health data to support informed decision-making. However, evidence and guidance on HIS strengthening in low- and middle-income countries have been historically lacking.


This article describes the approach, methods, lessons learned and recommendations from 5 years of applying our MEASURE Evaluation learning agenda to strengthen the evidence base for effective HIS interventions. 


The first step was to define key questions about characteristics, stages of progression, and factors and conditions of HIS performance progress. We established a team and larger advisory group to guide the implementation of activities to build the evidence base to answer questions. We strengthened learning networks to share information.


The process of applying the learning agenda provided a unique opportunity to learn by doing, strategically collecting information about monitoring and evaluating HIS strengthening interventions and building a body of evidence. There are now models and tools to strengthen HIS, improved indicators and measures, country HIS profiles, documentation of interventions, a searchable database of HIS assessment tools and evidence generated through syntheses and evaluation results.


The systematic application of learning agenda processes and activities resulted in increased evidence, information, guidance and tools for HIS strengthening and a resource centre, making that information accessible and available globally.


We describe the inputs, processes and lessons learned, so that others interested in designing a successful learning agenda have access to evidence of how to do so.